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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TickyToes@urgggmail.com By Cindy Sproles


Platform, platform, platform. Where do we begin? It's easy. You begin with your email address.
 
Texting has overtaken the phone while email has breezed past the post office. When email came into existence we found it fun, never anticipating it would become the businessman's way to communicate. Who would have thought?
Families set up email accounts and from that, individual accounts, whose addresses became as unique as the people themselves. Now we stand at the threshold of a new era. One where instant gratification is most important. So what does that mean to the writer? What is the impact for you? It could be devastating.
There are many pros. Just the fact a manuscript can be sent electronically within seconds - cover letter, proposal and entire manuscript in one transmission, definitely makes the cost of postage null and void. Editors no longer have to carry large briefcases filled with submissions when, with the flip of a switch, they have them at their fingertips. Technology has made paper clutter manageable. What a plus for the writer. Correspondence has become instantaneous. Writers can submit to multiple editors, agents and publishers with one simple email. It's wonderful.
But what about the editor or agent receiving the email? With the creative mind of writers, email addresses become a true headache for the editor or agent.
Imagine this:
You're an agent. You've just left a conference and asked for 15 writers to send you their work. By the time you arrive home and turn on your computer, here's what you see.
shessopretty@hotmail.com
Lovenfamily5@jojomail.com
lollipoplickingal@monster.net
kissandtell@....uh....you get the idea? Right?
Not only are these email addresses less than professional, they appear somewhat...well...risque'. As an editor, I can tell you first hand, I've received some pretty questionable email addresses. Though there is humor in these addresses, it's time for the writer to grow up and meet the publishing world with professionalism. How can we be treated as a professional if our branding comes in the form of lollipoplickinggal...?
For the editor and agent, these emails are a disaster. Here's why?
*Scams come in various forms from sneaky ploys to get money to less than desirable websites. Junk fills our email box and it's hard to know what to trust and easy to delete what seems "questionable."
*Viruses are attached to some of these emails. Some spam programs pick out obscure email addresses and dump them into spam, simply because phrases or key words raise a red flag. And if a virus is attached, it can destroy an agents full list of stored work.
*It's hard to respect a writer who's email address paints an unpleasant picture in your mind.
So how do we fix this?
Start by thinking of yourself as a professional. As a writer you are in business for yourself. It's important you have an email address that is both professional and respectful of the work you do. Develop an email address that is recognizable to you as an individual. Begin with your name. For example, years ago, when I began my own email, I set it up under my ministry. i.e. mountainbreezeministries@... Though this is a respectful email address, it doesn't identify me to an editor. More than likely, they don't know who Mountain Breeze Ministries is. Not only that, but by the time you add the remainder of the email address (the carrier), it's way too long.
As I became an editor, I learned the importance of sending an email that identified me to the receiver. I developed a professional email address that clearly stated to the receiver who was sending the email. cindyksproles@....
For those  people in the professional world who worked with me, it was easy to identify my email. They can remember Cindy when Mountain Breeze easily slipped their minds.
Most email carriers allow you to forward your email to a secondary account. And I do that. I allow my cindyksproles email to forward to my mountainbreeze account which is the workhorse account. For those on the professional side, there is no issue in locating me when they need me and I'm respected among my editor and business peers.
For me, it's almost too late to change the mountainbreezeministry email. For years peers have finally grown to know who mountainbreeze is, so by the time I figured out the importance of an email that was easily recognized, the retraining process became difficult.
Your assignment this week is simple. It's all about looking at your personal branding. How do you want people to identify with you? What do you want them to picture when they think of you? And more so, when you send that manuscript to an agent, will they remember YOU?
Perhaps you have a website and your email runs through that. Develop an email address through that site that identifies you in a professional light.
i.e. cindy@cindysproles.com
Utilize your name or first initial and last name into an email address that makes it easy to locate. Of course there are tons of John Smith's. So the chances of getting johnsmith@....com is slim but you can become creative. JohnSmithDevotions or J.Smith100@... Use your imagination to make a name for yourself.
Look over your personal branding. What is the theme of your blog or website? Is your name clearly stated on the site other than under ABOUT? Is there an email address that matches you and your branding. SusieSmithWrites1@....
If you don't have a website, blog or a professional email your assignment is to begin to research and develop this all important first step to building a platform.
Blogs from Blogger.com are relatively user friendly for the beginner. WordPress blogs are a bit more advanced but again, fairly user friendly. Companies such as GoDaddy.com offer web building tools that teach you along the way and provide support should you get stuck. There are individuals who specialize in building websites and blogs you can easily maintain keikihendrick.com.
The point is, your platform as a writer begins on this very basic level. Your email address. If you do not have a business email, get one now. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, ComCast, Charter, all provide free email addresses. When you type in your email address, if is says something on the order of sassygalinboots (I got this once from a writer), then get a new one.
Begin to build your platform with a professional and recognizable email address. 
This article is provided for by Cindy Sproles and is part of basic training for Writers Advance Bootcamp. Check out this North Carolina writers conference at  www.writersadvancebootcamp.com.

5 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

I've heard this message before and I agree that people should have an e-mail address that is associated with their website. That is a good idea if for no other reason than it allows people to change Internet service providers without changing their e-mail addresses. The argument that it is more professional looking when people receive an e-mail message doesn't hold water and never has. In a list of e-mails, I usually see the person's name, not the e-mail address. Once I open an e-mail to read it, usually don't look at the e-mail address. Rather, I skip down to the body of the message to see what is there. If the body appears to have value, it doesn't matter if I later notice it has an "unprofessional" e-mail address. I've already decided what I'm going to do with the e-mail and that isn't going to change.

From Mary's Pen said...

I disagree that an e-mail address doesn't convey a message. When I get an e-mail from someone I don't recognize, I do look at the address to see if it's a "real person" or a spam bot. Lollipoplickr would go directly into the trash, as would any e-mail that's a jumble of letters and numbers, or even a name followed by a string of random numbers. Those are almost always spambot created.

My e-mail is MarySthewriter@ a common server because I haven't yet created a dedicated website as a freelancer, but I'll keep this advice in mind as I move forward.

Karin Beery said...

I recently made the email change because there's no easy way to create an email address. For a while I used kvbwrites@, but v and b sound so similar that when I gave this address to people over the phone I ended up spelling the whole thing (there's a surprising number of people who don't understand that a writer would use 'writes' and not 'rights'). I still have some issues because of the unique spelling of my name, but I don't really see a way around that.

These days it's so easy and inexpensive to set up a Web site and coordinating email address that it doesn't make sense not to make the switch.

Nancy said...

Because my work email is a part of a fairly large network, the spam filters won't allow email addresses of the sort Cindy shared to come into our system. Period. So it's not a matter of whether I see the email address or the name of the sender, if the address is dicey, I probably won't see the email at all. Good article, Cindy.

Jennifer Major said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is stupid, unprofessional email addresses. Yes, it's totally a first world problem, but if one would like to be taken seriously, a non-lame email might be a good start.
And not to diss anyone who does this, but having 'ilovemykidsallfourofthem@ mooggle.com will not get you very far.
And if your name is common, there are always different ways of being original.
WHen I googled my name, to see what was out there, because quite a few variations of JenniferMajor" were taken. After some research, I was underjoyed to find out my namesake is in prison for drug smuggling and dealing.
I may just ues "NOTthedrugsmugglingJennifer@whatever.com